Welcome to the Knowledge Project, I'm your host, Shane Parrish, the curator behind the Farnam Street blog, which is an online community focused on mastering the best of what other people have already figured out. The knowledge project is a place where we look at interesting people ideas and uncover frameworks to make better decisions, live life and understand reality. On this episode I have read, Dalio raised the founder, chair and co chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates.
Bridgewater's started out of a two bedroom apartment in New York in 1975 and has grown into the largest hedge fund in the world and one of the most important private companies in the United States, as you'll hear from this conversation.
This was no fluke.
We talk about why Ray punched his boss in the face, his principles for living and work, the nuances of Bridgewater's culture, technology, why so few people deal with reality, mental models, how to build an idea meritocracy and how to make better decisions. And there's so much more intellectually raised answers will cause you to question why things aren't more like this.
They might just change the way you live. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Before I get started, here's a quick word from our sponsor. This episode is brought to you by Intel. Every business needs great customer service in order to stand out and gain a competitive advantage. Yet many businesses struggle with how to provide their customers with world class customer service. Intel Contact Center Solutions is a turnkey solution for all of your customer care needs.
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As a listener of this podcast, you can get up to ten thousand dollars off if you go to Intel. Com Slash and that's, I think, TEFL dotcom slash Shane. Ray, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.
I'm thrilled to be here.
I want to start with the story of you punching your boss in the face. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Well, I was he and I were drunk on New Year's Eve and, you know, and we had we had this playful, fun, challenging relationships and I decked him and he then crashed the car when he went home and his wife chewed him out. And I figured that I was going to lose my job. And then he came in the next day and or the day after and with a black eye. And he had no problem with me. And he said, hey, listen, that was what it was like.
You know, we just you know, it was a moment and it was fun. And I had a lousy New Year's Eve, but no hard feelings. And we got past that. Was why are you interested?
Oh, I'm interested in that story because it's the story that everybody kind of talks about, but nobody really knows a lot of the details behind. I mean, it's something you've released before, but
it was at a certain age.
And I had a certain kind of, you know, spirit that I would say you're I don't know what you call it, but I was a little bit, you know, wild at the time.
And, you know, and anyway, it was it was it's interesting to evolve, you know,
tell me what a day looks like for a typical day if there is one for the world's largest hedge fund manager.
Well, I. I wake up and immediately check what the markets in the news are doing. And then I, I was in a stage where I used to run the company and then deal with the market simultaneously. So I was juggling both things. Now I'm at a stage where I'm just following the markets and you know, the economics. It's not a fast paced type of existence. It's more of a thoughtful type of existence. So I've got a group of brilliant people.
I come in, we usually hit a big meeting. It'll usually be a research meeting. We're examining something that is happening.
Everything happens over and over again. Not everything we think of this as everything is another one of those.
So by being able to look at history and make the connections and examine how the mechanics of the cause effect relationships are, that's what we spend a lot of time doing.
And then we convert those rules, those principles into algorithms. So through the day, I'm doing that mostly and reflecting on mostly on the markets with interesting people. And we debate a lot. So and that'll carry through the day.
I imagine everybody's throwing information at you. How do you filter what's valuable and what's noise nice?
Well, I don't let them randomly throw that information out. You know, I I'm very stepping back. I'm much more like to go to kind of what I might describe as a higher level. There's there's the blizzard that everybody's normally in and that's where they're caught with all these things coming at them. And I prefer to go above the blizzard and just organize. So I'm it's it's organized that way. I'm I also should say that I meditate. So I started my day when you gave me the question as I started my business day, I should say.
I also find that meditation has been fantastic and I do that regularly. So I want to always maintain an equanimity, not get caught in the blizzard to try to be more strategic. And so I don't I manage that.
Tell me the story about how you came to transcendental meditation.
Well, I was it was nineteen sixty nine and the Beatles had meditated and went to India and I read about it and it became popular and I was curious about it. So I took my I don't remember it was, it was very fifty dollar fee and my flowers and I went to this place and I learned how to meditate and and it.
One of the most important, greatest things in my life, because it allowed me to have an equanimity. You want me to describe a little bit what it is like?OK, it's a simple exercise, really, in which one has a mantra, which is a sound or a made up word, and when you repeated over and over again with your breath, it takes your mind away from your thoughts and it directs those attentions to your mantra. And then when you keep doing that, the mantra disappears and you go into your subconscious. And when you're in your subconscious mind, that's extremely powerful because so much comes from our subconscious mind.
That's where our creativity comes from. You know, that's what intuitions and all of that happens. And so it opens a passageway between one subconscious in one's conscious. So you're not in an unconscious state like sleeping and you're not in a conscious state. And so that exercise, it allows you to completely eliminate stress and and it fosters creativity, because when you think of creativity, it's not that you go muscle it. It's more like, you know, you take a hot shower in, these great ideas come to you.
Well, that's what happens. So meditation creates that that equanimity. It creates that vehicle for the connection between the subconscious and the conscious, and it allows creativity. And I really think that then the reconciliation of what is subconscious and what is logical is very powerful because your instincts, your intuitions and so things, those sort of things may be invaluable insights and they may be wrong. And when one can reconcile their subconscious thoughts, those instincts, those intuitions with their logic and the consciousness, it's very, very powerful.
So that gives me an equanimity that helps keep me out of the blizzard.
Was this something that took off right away for you or was it something that you had to work, had to establish this?
You mean the ability to get to that stage? It's a practice. It's a simple exercise. And the more you do it, the more you get better at it. And, you know, the deeper you go, the easier it is. It's like, I suppose if you were doing yoga or you were doing almost anything, you get better with time.
I assume the Beatles were a pretty big influence on you if you kind of followed this.
Well, I like the Beatles, but it wasn't as much that as, you know, the practice the practice of meditation was way bigger than the Beatles. The Beatles were interesting and a good rock group. And I love music. And my dad was a jazz musician and I love music. So but it wasn't the Beatles. It was this thing I tripped along on the meditation.
Who were your biggest influences?Over maybe the 70s and 80s. Kind of.
Well, I think. I think if you take the 60s, in the 70s, and then you get into the 80s, what affected me was it was an era of aspirational, ideological and ideological ideals. So you have to understand, let's say John Kennedy, if you start off, was a man who believed that we were going to conquer outer space, eliminate poverty and produce equal rights.
And so he was a very charismatic figure. And all through my life, there were people who were inspirational. I would call them shapers. They will visualize the future. It was an era when the United States was the most powerful country in the world. Still is, of course, but in a way different. We accounted for 40 percent of the world's economy. We had we were dominant and in almost any respect.
And the reaching for the stars literally was all part of that aspirational, that greater thing.
And so when you take that and then we went into an era of that creative rebelliousness, and I would say that I admired Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, those people who were rising above and having that up, people who I would consider to be highly principled people. And also so then, you know, there are just so many of those types of people at the at the time.
Were you a big reader?
I wouldn't say I was a big reader. I was. And of course, it depends on my my age when I'm answering that question. No, I wasn't a big reader. I was a big experiencer more. You know, I.
I like experiences,
tell me the story about how Bridgewater almost went bankrupt,
so. I started Bridgewater and in 1975, so pick up where we left off Punch, my boss didn't get fired that time, not long after that, that another had another incident and got fired. And that was 1975. And and but the clients of at the time, Shearson was the firm that I was working with were which were big hedgers at the time, were wanted to continue to work with me.
And so they paid me fees and I started out. So from 1975 until 1982, 82 is the period. Can you imagine this was seven years of building a business, making a lot of good and bad decisions, but many more good ones and bad ones, and built up my little business. And then in 1982, I had calculated that a number of countries would not be able to pay back their debts to American banks. And American banks had 250 percent of their capital out to them in loans.
So they were going to go bankrupt. And this was a very controversial point of view. I mean, people I thought were going to have an economic collapse and because the banks wouldn't collapse. And then what happened is, lo and behold, on August 1982, Mexico defaults on its debts. And people started to see this, and that led me to getting a lot of attention, so I was put on Wall Street week. I was asked to testify to Congress to help them understand this debt crisis and so on, so forth.
And I thought we were going into a depression and this was the worst economy ever. And it turned out if you look at the exact bottom in the stock market, August 1982, when Mexico defaulted, that was the exact bottom in the stock market. And that's because then the Federal Reserve printed money and and interest rates and so on, so forth. But that was totally wrong. So I lost clients that cost me money. And I had to let everybody I who work with me go.
And we were a very tight group of people. So it was like losing extended family. I was so broke that I had to borrow four thousand dollars from my dad and I had to make a choice. Am I going to go to work for somebody else or am I going to work through this and this? So it was that, you know, terrible experience, but it turned out to be maybe the most valuable experiences or one of the most valuable experiences of my life, because it changed my approach to decision making.
I went from thinking, you know, I'm right to asking myself, how do I know I'm right? In other words, how do I triangulate? It gave me the humility I needed to balance with my audacity. And so then it gave me an open mindedness. And from that point forward, everything was better we can get into. But what what changed that raised my probabilities of being right and managed and allowed me to manage risk for that point forward.
You know, everything became better really until today. And that's what I'm trying to convey in the book. If I can convey that to people at this stage in my life, my goal is to pass along the most valuable things I've learned. And really that is the most valuable thing I learned.
Would you say that was the seed of when the principles started?
Yeah, it was. What I learned. Was.
The value of thoughtful disagreement, I learn a few things, I learn radical open mindedness, I think the greatest tragedy of mankind and the greatest tragedy of most people is to hold opinions in their head that are wrong, that they're attached to and that they don't stress test.
It's so easy to take those ideas and properly put them out there in an ideal meritocratic way and have them stress tests, which raises the probabilities of being right.
So I learn radical open mindedness and I'll explain what an idea meritocracies like, because I'd like to do that. I learned how to balance risks better. Right?
So I learned that if how I could reduce my risk without reducing my returns by being able to literally structure my bets in a more diversified way. So and I learned also to look at history that of things that never happened in my lifetime whenever I was surprised. And I think whenever most people are surprised, it's because of something that never happened in their lifetime before, but it happened before.
So it doesn't happen in their context. But it happened. So you don't see it, so you don't think about it.
Like the 2008 financial crisis in the 2008 financial crisis, almost everybody thought that was even plausible. The only reason we were able to anticipate it and benefit from it is because we felt that it was necessary to understand what had happened in the 30s and what happened before, because the same things happen over and over again. And once you get the idea that they just may not have happened in your lifetime, it could be a hurricane, it could be a plague, it could be whatever it is, some things happen once every 75 years, particularly debt crisis is in those kinds of things.
So that so those were the three things. The three things were, first, to know how to have an idea, meritocratic decision making, knowing that I might be wrong, having that fear. The second was really knowing how to balance my bets, and the third was really how to gain a perspective in which I see the same things happening over and over again beyond my lifetime and can write down principles for them. So answer your question in terms of the principles.
Yeah, I got into an exercise that I'd recommend for everybody out there. Whenever you're making a decision that's an important decision. You're used to just making that decision and moving on. I developed an exercise that I would write down my criteria for making those decisions. So that would be my principles.
Do you have a decision journal, almost?
Yes, a decision journal. Right. And which are these those written principles which are really what is in the book? Mostly. So one by one, how do I make that decision? What are the cause effect relationship.
So on another one of those comes along, I remember it and I communicate it. And this has been invaluable to me also in dealing with people because we could deal with each other better. I can have those stress tested. It's reasonable.
You look at that and you say, if this thing came along, would you do this it the way I'm describing, would you operate by that principle? And you can have back and forth and refine the principles then that leads one to think in a principled way rather than in the snowstorm that you're talking, this blizzard of everything that comes at people.
Instead, it's like you look at everything and you see everything is another one of those. So like a duck or a species, right.
You think, OK, what species is it? How do I deal with that species in the most effective way? And then I found out that I could put those into algorithms. In other words, that, you know, starting thirty years ago, I was able to say, if I have that criteria, you know, we call them formulas that now they're algorithms.
But I would write down if if this happened and do this and I would write that down. And then I learned how the computer could be a partner.
And so it changed everything by writing that those principles down and then also putting them to algorithm. It changed my relationships with people that allowed us to have an idea. Meritocracy.
How instant was that from the kernel of kind of almost going bankrupt to.
Knowing that you had to start stress testing your ideas against other other people and other ideas and developing principles for making decisions. Was that like an overnight thing or.
Well, no, it's one things leads to another and it's an evolutionary thing over. I guess the biggest reaction to that probably happened over the next, let's say, two years or something. First, there's the pain and then and then there's the dilemma. The dilemma is how do I not let this happen again
or avoid it,
but also not lose the upside. In other words, there's this upside. And I want to grab the outside of one of the greatest life I could possibly have and be right, but also the greatest upside produces downside.
So it started me to go into the calculation of how I could do that. But it also just naturally gave me a humility, you know, and then I was at that juncture, do I do I go to work for somebody else or do I do this?
So over that period of time, then you do something and then you find out how that turns out and then you modify it and modify it. But it told me idea meritocratic decision making is the best decision making.
In other words, that if you do this well, you will radically improve what your decisions are.
The only two things you need to do to be successful.
First, you have to know what the best decisions are. And second, you have to have the courage to do them.
But you might think in your head that you have those right decisions when you start to realize that there's a world out there and that you know how to sort through those things to find out what the best decisions are, you radically raise your probability. So it was the evolutionary process of seeing that and not giving up on that. You know, thoughtful disagreement is not an easy thing for a lot of people. People are instinctually reluctant to disagree.
That's a great barrier, right to learning. So it you know, that was a journey of how we could, you know, disagree well and have an idea meritocracy.
So what is an ideal meritocracy?
Well, in an ideal meritocracy is when the best ideas win out. And the way that you have to have it, there are three steps that you have to do. First, you have to put your honest thoughts out there. A lot of people have problems doing that, but you have to you have to welcome others doing it and you have to do it, so you have to put them on the table to look at them. Second, you have to have thoughtful disagreement.
In other words, the ability to take in and have a back and forth in a quality way so that you can make better decisions than you could make individually. And we have protocols for doing that that are described in the book.
And then third, you have to have ways that if disagreements remain that you think are fair, appropriate, agreed upon ways of getting past that disagreement because not everybody is going to get what they want. And the problem that most people have at that point is that either there is an autocratic decision maker or a democratic decision maker. Neither of those work well, the autocratic decision makers, just the guy who's the boss who says, OK, well, now I'm going to do this.
That's a problem because others don't own it. And how do you know that? You're right, you can't be arrogant. And then there's Democratic decision making, and that means everybody has the same votes, the same opinion. That's not sensible because they have different merits to that. So if you have an idea meritocracy, you have to know also the merit of people's thinking. And so we go through the process of being able to identify in fair ways, in ways that we all agree to, of ways of knowing what's the merit of each things.
And we literally have scores of these tests and whatever they are that become the scores. So we have believability weighted voting.
So I mean, literally, if I'm running something and we're in a group and three people who have higher levels of believability than I do think that it should be one thing and I think it should be something, there's going to be a questioning back and forth. I put myself in the mode of a learner so that I can take in and then make the best decision. You have to know that the best decision that you can make isn't necessarily the one that you're attached to that's in your head.
And that's ideal meritocratic decision making.
I like that a lot. I want to talk a bit like how do people adjust to an environment like that where they have a believability score? What is believability?
Believability means that some people have a greater probability of having a better insight or a better opinion than something else. I'll use an example. You have a medical problem. OK, you're on believability on the subject is low, right, you go to a doctor, OK, that doctor has a certain level of believability. Another doctor has another level of believability. You want to handle it?
Well, go to three highly believable people who are willing to disagree with each other and hear that disagreement and interact and bring out that disagreement and see where there's agreement so that you get to the other side. So when you either have agreement or you understand the disagreements, you're then in a position to make a better decision. That's an example of believability, weighted decision making. Then there's just the mechanics of how you get to assign each person the believability. But if I use that example with your doctor, that's how you're making that decision.
That's what believability weighted decision making is. So regarding your question of what it's like and so on,
I have this belief that everybody goes in going.
Of course, I want to be a part of this environment. And then they get in and there's this dose of reality that comes with it.
That's that's what it is. OK, so before anyone joins Bridgewater, we explain to them all of this and what the challenges are going to be and so on, because they're not used to operating this way. Our educational system doesn't allow into our work environments, doesn't allow it to so much that stands in the way of doing that. So the first thing is, do you intellectually want it? Because there are two views and you really in your brain, there's the thoughtful intellectual part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex that is thoughtful.
And you said, I would like to know I would like to know what people think. I would like to be able to fully convey what I think. I would like to work myself through this idea of meritocratic.
I would like to know my weaknesses. Do you want to know your weaknesses or did not want to know your weaknesses? I'd like to get to know my weaknesses so those people intellectually come and they say, I'm going. I buy into that. Yeah, OK. Then there's an emotional part of the brain. That emotional part of the brain comes. It's genetically programmed from literally millions of years ago in which there's a part of our brain, the amygdala, which has this fight or flight thing.
And when there's that kind of frankness and that kind of exploration of one's weaknesses, people can think that they're being attacked instinctually so that why wouldn't you want to know those things out of curiosity, to have a quality back and forth.
So there's an emotional. So when people come in, they understand very well that they have their to you, we call it they're to use that are going to struggle with each other. So they're prepared for the struggle and then they go through it. And that's largely what happens as they go through it.
They regularly encounter it and because they're mindful of it, they know it's there to use struggling with it and then also struggling with others who see things differently to pass through that. And so that exercise is what they go through and most that we call it getting to the other side. Because when you go through that, you know, you recognize you're faced with the choice. Do you want to go back to an environment in which people are hiding things in their offices, a political environment, and you don't really know what's going on and you can't speak up and nobody else can speak up.
So they when they intellectualize, they work themselves through it and we say when they get to the other side, it's great. Like they love it. They don't want to operate any other way because they they know even their weaknesses. They can be more of themselves. A big part of this is that we have meaningful work and meaningful relationships, OK? They're equal priorities and they reinforce each other. So to know that people are helping them through that, that this is not an environment in which there's somebody trying to hurt you, but to explore what's true by going through that exploration of what is true and doing it in an idea meritocratic way, where there's that that meaningful relationships, it helps people get to the other side.
Then those who make it to the other side really don't ever want to work anywhere else in the sense that they start to think, you know, first of all, the relationships are important and that that that's healthy.
So it's a transition. It's it's probably like a transition of trying to eat healthy and exercise and do those types of things typically takes about 18 months.
Who thrives in that?
Like, what are the markers for someone that's less likely to succeed? And what are the indicators that somebody is more likely or more probable to succeed?
It is that what I guess I would describe as the capacity to rise above one's self? To look down on oneself, in other words, that that combination of need to understand. As well as open minded, as we describe it, as the balance of assertiveness and open mindedness to know that you're not blindly following, that you have an opinion, you have an independent thing, and to know that that opinion simultaneously could be wrong and to then be curious.
So to find out how do I know whether I'm wrong and do that in an ideal, meritocratic way, people who can juggle those two things can make it.
Would you say that's almost a continuum that you're constantly sliding on, depending on the type of decision you're making and the people that are in the room? Maybe based on the believability of their opinions, you should shift more towards an open mind versus if not, or am I thinking about that in the wrong way?
I think what you're what you're saying is absolutely true. I think the big question is, do you have a whole lot of both open mindedness and curiosity when you're entering that?
I could say whatever meeting I'm in with whoever I am and and whether they're the least experienced. I know that's a valuable exchange and a reason. I know that that's a valuable exchange, whether I'm at the highest level of expertise with the person. In other words, there appear at the highest or maybe knows a lot more than I it's still going to be a valuable exchange. And knowing that is is valuable. And the reason I'm saying it's a valuable exchange is, first of all, in a community respecting the fact that that person has the right to understand is important.
At the same time, I think it's important for the parties to try to think, am I a teacher, student or peer? Because if I'm speaking with somebody who really knows a lot more about them, that's something I want to be asking more questions than I want to be sharing opinions. Right. And vice versa. It should be generally vice versa. Or if it's appear so, by knowing something, keeping in mind what that situation is, it helps to helps in the navigation.
You know, like I'm very curious when a very smart, respected person disagrees with me. Right. Right.
Because then you want to know why or what is the essence? Am I missing something? Right.
And if somebody who's much less experienced are less capable, disagrees with me, I'm still curious. But the first exercise we probably should go through maybe is that they're asking questions. But the more I know that they have the answers, you know, the quicker I want to switch to a open mind, you know, more peer type of exchange. So you're correct in that knowing that is helpful. But it's never the case that the open that the discussion shouldn't be along those lines, particularly in a community.
What advice would you have for somebody who works for an organization that doesn't support an idea, meritocracy, but they want to learn and get better?
Well, I think the first thing you have to decide is what are the most important things for yourself? Right. If it's the case that everybody has the right to make sense of things, the right and obligation to make sense of things. Now, if you're in an environment that doesn't allow that, it doesn't allow you to ask questions and do those explorations for me, frankly speaking, I couldn't do that.
I just couldn't do that for somebody else. That may not be a problem. So you have to decide for yourself first, you know, is what what is the right environment? What do you like? What's what's important? If it's a really high important thing to you, then you will find it. It may not be at that job. It may be at the next job. It may not be 100 percent exactly the way you want it. It may be, but you can find a by and large way of finding it.
And it's not just the organization you're with, it's the relationships you're hired because this doesn't end up just with your organization. It's like if you're having a partner, how do you deal with your partner? It could be a spouse. It could be anybody. How or how do you what's your relationship? How are you going to get past the disagreement? So it's the same three questions. Can you put your honest thoughts on the table to look at together?
Can you have thoughtful disagreement on how to get past that? And when you disagree, do you have an ability to what is your mechanism to getting past that disagreement? Do the principles that bind you together? Are they more important than the ones that divide you? What are your principles? These same things apply in personal relationships as well as work relationships.
Are people more successful at Bridgewater coming in at, say, above 30 or rent out of school?
It really doesn't. It doesn't make too much difference, although the reasons make differences.
The people come directly from school are tend to be a little bit more arrogant, know a little bit less, and go through a transformation that pretty much easier. They're more adaptable.
So that's why they're prone to like it. But but also depending on whether they can get off of the arrogance part that will be important. The person who comes later in career, who likes Bridgewater is so sick of the organization that they were that they worked for in terms of and the bureaucracy and all of that, so that it's like an oasis.
So they come with different perspectives. You know, it's equally likely to succeed or fail any of those groups. It depends on their perspective, though. They have different perspectives.
Your principles are packed with kind of mental models of how you think we should calibrate to the world, which of them are the least well understood or misunderstood
the most is this issue of thoughtful disagreement.
And that's so thoughtful disagreement also what the purpose of these principles are like. So sometimes people think that the thoughtful disagreement is a being mean with people.
And sometimes people also think that another misunderstanding is that these principles are like a dogma. OK, is this is Bridgewater a cult? Is it a dogma or something like that where it's it's the exact opposite. In other words, it's an idea meritocratic. If we don't have ground rules about how we can challenge each other and do those things, we would not be able to have an idea meritocratic environment. So it's you know, it's a radically. So those would be the two things, you know, are we being mean?
No, we're not being mean.
It's we have tough love with each other. Right. OK, that's what it is. No, it's not meanness. And secondly, it's an idea meritocracy that allows radically different points of view to be thrashed through and and gotten past rather than something that's asking everybody to behave the same way.
In the book, you talk about tough love as being one of the best gifts you can kind of give somebody. And do you tell me about that? Walk me through why you think that's the case.
Well, because the most important thing I can give anybody is strength. Right, that feedback, that that critical feedback, that that toughness to let you strive, to let you make mistakes, I talk in the book about how it's important to make mistakes and how making a mistake is not a problem, that not learning from mistakes is a problem. So that's difficult. Skin your knees, strive, develop that those strengths. That's what tough love is. If you spoil somebody, so to speak, if you if you're if you don't do those things that allows them to get better.
That's not, in my opinion, you know, true love. That's not that's not helpful. So tough love. If you could think about that. I gave the example of Vince Lombardi and the old, you know, in the football in terms of that the image of tough love is a it's a it's a healthy thing. And it's a particularly difficult kind of love to give because it's often not appreciated, you know, at that point, because what are you doing?
Or give me what I want as human nature. But if you really understand that it's good for somebody and it's good for the community, it's very important.
Has your implementation of the principles changed over the years? Yeah, how?
Well, you know, and so in so many different ways. You know, first, you know, we just live the principles. Then we had to write them down and agree on them. Then we put them in algorithms and we developed tools. So you saw that tool in the TED talk? I would say to your listeners, if you go 16 minute TED talk, you'll get the idea of what what's going on.
Yeah, phenomenal. TED talk art collector.
Yeah. So you'll see a tool, right? The collector, it'll give that that perspective so you could see how technology evolved.
All sorts of things evolved over that, that period of time. So it evolved over forty years, I guess.
What other technology tools do you have internally to aid in decision making or give people feedback?
We have number of we have a dispute resolver. OK, so if there's a dispute, you sort of push this button and it's an app and it takes you through the paths of resolving that dispute and it breaks down disputes in terms of types of dispute. If it's just you and somebody arguing, then it will it will say it'll make suggestions. For example, you both mutually agree on who a moderator for that dispute would be, a moderator or a judge and so on.
So there's one level of dispute and there's another level of dispute, which is like a case, but it is a part it's a created pathway to resolve a dispute like a legal system, so that if you have now a dispute with your neighbor because something happened, you have a pathway to follow. So we've created a tool called a dispute resolver that does does that. We have oh, just we have single people profiles that show profiles of different people. We have a thing called a meeting tracker.
So it's the it's a computerized version of watching what's going on and then synthesizing the whole picture of what everybody's thinking so that anybody can look into that meeting and and see everybody's participating it through other people's eyes. There's a tool that we help people go from pain to progress.
You know, as I mentioned in the book, I have an expression, pain plus reflection equals progress. So we have a thing called a pain button. And the pain button means that if you have psychological pain at the moment, it makes it very easy to capture what type, what the facts about it. Is it with this person while you're in it, then you come back to it and and then it cause it prompts you through reflections like what are you going to do about that?
How will you handle it? Should you have a conversation with the person? Should you do this? You do that. And then what it does is it tracks your progress. Are you having that same pain over and over again of the same type? Did you follow what you set out to do in terms of that or did you not follow that and so on? So it almost works like a psychologist on a daily basis to be able to take a look at that.
It's like a double level of feedback on that.
Well, it's gives you the bio. You're giving yourself biofeedback. Right? And so but you're looking at yourself. It encourages the self reflection, because at the end of the day, all I want people to do is get what they want out of life. Right. And so it's very much important for them to have that self. Reflection and so by reconciling their emotional pain that's coming within their reflection is a very, very powerful thing. We have a tool called a coach.
So if you're in a situation and you're in, you're saying, you know what? How do you think I should handle it? There's advice that says this kind of situation, OK, here are some principles that might help. Again, this isn't doctrine. This is like it's the opposite of doctrine. Yeah, it is an intention that presents things easily so that you could make the choice that when you're in that situation. OK, calmly, what should I do?
And here are the principles that might help me get through that. A lot of these tools I'd like to get out there and make public at some point and figuring out how to do that, because this idea of meritocratic way of operating and knowing what you don't know and how to get past that tragic mistake of having those ideas in your head is just so invaluable.
Are any of the tools connected to biometrics like an Apple Watch for heart rate and stuff like that? Or.
We haven't done that yet, though there are possibilities for doing that.
That kind of biofeedback is really valuable because then you can almost hit the subconscious level of you're saying something that's making me angry, even if I don't feel it or you're seeing something making me feel something, because I can tell it's my my sweat pores are coming on and my heart rate is rising or.
Exactly. We haven't made that connection yet, but it's something we probably should do.
And, you know, we'll do.
You have a culture of radical transparency. Can you define what radical transparency is?
Well, except for a few things. Few types of things, it's allowing people to see everything, so what it means is. All discussions, meetings are taped and pretty much unless it's an ultra personal matter, we don't do that unless it's something proprietary, we don't do that. But when we're encountering other things, most things, we let people see things. And the reason is if if you can't see things firsthand, you can't be part of the idea of meritocracy.
right. If somebody's talking about you.
Behind there, why are they talking about you behind there, would like to know how can we encourage that straightforwardness? So it's one of those things where in order to maximize the idea meritocracy, we want to maximize the transparency. Now, I know let me be clear. I know that that's not for everyone. And I know it's not for every organization. It is it's it's been fantastic for us. And I would recommend recommend the approach. But I wouldn't say that in order to have an idea meritocracy, you need to do that.
You need to go that far. The real question is, do you do you want to have an idea? Meritocracy. Once you start there, then you will go down a journey that will start to take you into questions of like, OK, how much, how far, with whom?
The idea meritocracy may be a narrower group of people. So if you say it's going to be 25 people and I don't know, 300 person company or something, there's still facing the question of how you are with each other.
So in one fashion or another, you're going to have to deal with, do you not know, how do you work through the dealing? The three questions that I three things that I mentioned before, even in a two person relationship, then these techniques you will make choices about. But that radical transparency is important. I'll say also that radical transparency is coming at you fast anyway, because we're now living in a world where the data that you believe about yourself all over the place is meaning that people will you know, stranger systems can now examine you and know you better than people who are your close friends or your spouse.
They can look at you because of the data that you're leaving all over yourself. So it can be a bad thing or it can be a good thing.
And but it's coming at you that radical transparency. So I would encourage people, even if they're not having radical transparency, to start to think about how they deal with this radical transparency. I think I found it fantastic because it gives me that none of the meaningful work. It gives me the meaningful relationships. You know, if you're with each other on a regular basis and everybody understands what you're like and there's not much to hide, I mean, there's certainly privacy, but there's not that you're generally having that kind of openness.
It also makes for better relationships that have been my experiences for forty two years.
When it goes wrong, how does it go wrong?
The things that can go wrong are if the if you have people who want to do your harm and will take information and distort the information to do you harm. I mean, that that's that's a risk. I would say that that would be, you know, the only risk that I've experienced. And and that has to be a function of how you deal with it.
Aside from technology tools, how does Bridgewater's shape people's subconscious through their environment?
Well, the environment, of course, shapes people's subconscious a lot. And it is. That by having side from the tools, by having an environment that is like this, that is what I would call intellectually, I'd view it healthy.
It's like living in an environment like a healthy environment environment. If you were living in a community where people ate healthy in a healthy way and did those habits and self reinforced those kinds of behaviors. So it's and, you know, encourages that kind of reflection. It's one of those things where the people you're around. Will influence you in how you are with each other, influences each other.
I love the idea of tools and kind of the baseball cards that you have, because one of the big problems in life that everybody faces, whether they know it or not, I think is determining whether the person they're sitting across from knows what they're talking about or they're kind of an imposter and they sound like they know what they're talking about. How would you go about doing that without tech tools?
Well, you're in one fashion, another. You first have to bring it up.
I mean, so let's just imagine you didn't have tech tools, but you have five people in a company, a startup.
The most basic thing you don't need the tech tools is the question of how you're going to be with each other. Right. So if you can I ask you any questions, can I probe you, can we see how it is? After a while you're going to know what you're like and you're going to discuss it. You you typically don't have that understanding because you don't talk about a lot. You've got these scenarios going in your head and that other person's got those scenarios.
But because there's not actually truthful conversation and exploration of evidence, you have problems. So even when there's disagreement we have about, you know, what somebody like the fact that we can establish and anybody can establish sort of tests. OK, let's try this and see how that goes and see how well you do. What can we agree? Our objective criteria and then we don't know what's true until we pretty much reach an agreement ourselves. So somebody you know, there's no disagreement about strengths.
We have very little disagreement about people saying you have a string where you typically have disagreement is about people having a weakness. And if the person then says, oh, I recognize that I now have that weakness, that's the point we have to reach that we agree on it. Because if we still don't agree on it, then we say, how do we solve that together? So that there are lots of ways that individuals can operate in idea meritocratic ways without tools.
How do you think that people can foster this sort of open mindedness? I mean, in your book, you kind of lay out what an open minded person looks like versus a closed minded person. How do we go about getting ourselves to the place where we want to be open minded if we're close minded or if we don't even acknowledge it? I think that's probably the first step. But if we do, is it like you dive in the deep end of this pool and people are starting to give you feedback all the time now, or is there a baby step?
Well, I think the first thing. The reason I wrote the book. You know, I'm at a stage of my life and I want to pass along is to the first stage is to have people actually be able to visualize what is it like?
What is that alternative? What is like?
Yeah, OK. And if you can visualize it and you say I intellectually want it and that the only thing that's standing in my way of having it is these emotional reactions. And now I have to develop the muscles, you know, and that discipline to just get myself over those moments so that I can have it. That's the most important thing. Our whole environment does not lend itself to knowing what that alternative way of operating is. So I hope to paint it in that book so that people can see that what that alternative is like.
If you see the alternative, you intellectually you'll probably want it. And if you want it, you'll do it.
Yeah. Are people the same outside of Bridgewater as they are in the company?
Like if you have a social gathering, is it a similar
it's it's it's almost identical and it's almost identical. I mean, like you, you're going to want it now. Of course, the ground rules are different, you know, and the way you navigate it is different because people around you are different. They may misunderstand what you're doing in terms of being straightforward, but even there, you know, it depends on, like, how you're doing it.
Like if you're phrasing, let's say, a complaint if I go to a restaurant. And I know the food is good, and I actually or I have a problem with that. I think to myself, almost in an unethical way, and if the owner comes by and he asks me and almost is like an ethical question that one wrestles with, and I if I was going to make a comment, I would have to preface that comment by saying something like, I'm trying to be helpful.
You know, here is what I think. Here's what my thought is. Take it or leave it, you know, that kind of thing. But even more in their personal relationships. It it affects friendships, you know how you are with each other, you know, two things that I think only two things I require in a relationship are people to be reasonable.
In other words, able to reason and to be considerate. And I will give people an enormous amount of that and I expect an enormous amount of that. And that's that's in all relationships. And I would say that a lot of Bridgewater people carry that with them, you know, when we have a disagreement. Are we able to reason it through or are we going to have temper tantrums? You know, so people become more reasonable and more considerate.
So these are carried through in a lot of ways.
What are some of the other organizations who have cultures that you admire or that are similar that you see to your principles?
I you know, I'd be the wrong person to ask. Three wonderful psychologists, organizational psychologists came in and examined us. I particularly recommend the works of Adam Grant. He did a book called Originals, and he examined a bunch of companies and he found those elements. And then of another person by the name Harvard professor and organizational psychology by the name of Bob Keegan. And he wrote a book, The Deeply Developmental Organization. And he looked at all those organizations and and and contrasted them.
So I would say, you know, they'd be better experts on it, although I think that what came through all of that was the notion of the meaningful work being for relationships, bringing mistakes to the surface, making it OK to make mistakes, but not OK to learn, not to learn from mistakes. All of those things were and and in mind, I can't really comment on a lot of organizations because I don't know them well.
To what extent do you think is leadership in need versus that can be learned?
I think it's probably almost entirely can be learned, of course, in terms of the development of the brain and how synapses develop and so on.
The early years has a very big influence on a lot of our personal development that's physiologically, psychologically, you know, known. But I think that there's always a leadership style that can be learned. In other words, there's your way of doing it. I've given personality tests to while I mentioned that in the book, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, many, many incredible, successful people. And they all have some elements in common. And then they also have differences.
And so there's there is a path to leadership. There are some people who are the charismatic, extroverted leader, and they find one path. There's the person who's introverted and thoughtful and they can find another path.
I think the key is still in both cases, this combination of do you know where you're leading to and how do you get that?
And then how do you interact with the people so that you can bring them along and you can make them believe or grow so that they can also help leading. Leading is a lot of the development of leaders so that they know in order to lead effectively, what you have to make is a group of people who then can be effective themselves because that's what's going to produce the leverage and the cohesiveness. So there are different styles of being able to do that.
It's a lot learnable. You know, again, I went for some thoughts that are uncommon in the book about that, but I think it's a lot learnable.
Do you want to have a formal kind of leadership development program that you put people through or is it.
What does that include and what does that look like?
Well, when everybody comes in, there's a we would call a boot camp and that'll go for two to three weeks. That gives them an immersion into what the culture's like. It might go three weeks if they're in the management boot camp and then they start to get skills and then they go into their job, which is an apprentice ship kind of. A relationship, and then they get typically about three hours of training pertaining to the development of those skills and they go through experiences and we collect data on them, they look at the data and we then recalibrate how they learn.
And and then it's an evolutionary process. As they grow, we learn more about them. They learn more about themselves. We find out where they're better suited.
We go through a series of experiences that continues that to happen until they continue to evolve wherever they evolve to
who's the mastermind kind of behind the development program, because I imagine it's always evolving to
I had two things to do, and then I have this great team of people and it depends what what it's like we have on the data collection processing type of thing. We have a fellow by the name of Dave Ruggie who was the person who started and created Watson at IBM. He's fast fantastic in terms of machine thinking, and he's a key person. But we have the CEOs of the company and involved. We got people involved in, you know, how they write algorithms.
And, you know, so there's a we have a team, a whole team that deals with training. You know what that is like on a daily basis. So there's a lot you know, there's there's a lot of different people do different things up to where we are. And it's it's been a very particularly important thing for me personally to make sure that the people part of this was developing. Basically, the business grew up under me. So two things, investments, you know, like we're talking now about the people part, the work part.
So I had run a business. It was an entrepreneurial endeavor and it grew into quite a business. And then at the same time, I'm thinking about economics, investments and markets. And so I do both of those two things and now I'm passing the baton. That's why 2017, by the way, that's why I'm putting the book out right now. Yeah, 2017 is my is my going from the second stage in my life to the third stage in my life.
It's a transition. I I've stepped out as the CEO and let's say the transition itself. I mean, second the third stage. What I mean is in the second stage of your life, you're working and other people's are dependent on you.
First stage of your life is when you're learning and you're dependent on others. When you get into, let's say, your 20s or when that is and you enter your second stage of your life, you're working and increasingly people are dependent on you.
And when you get to your 60s, let's say you're the greatest beauty that you can have, the greatest success is in helping other people be successful.
It's instinctual. I want others to be successful, not me be any more successful, because then what happens is I can then go on to my third stage and they can be in their second stage. And it's quite normal in families. Like if you think about your parents, OK, and you think about your kids in terms of your life, when you went on to your second stage and you became self-sufficient and you could do it all yourself and they could watch beauty happen and they became free of those obligations and their goal is to have that.
So that's the transition that I'm meant. Twenty seventeen is my transition year. That's why I wrote the book and it's why I'm in that process. So that's that's what's going on.
Buffett said one of the things that he kind of worries about is keeping the culture at Berkshire Hathaway when he he passes. Is that something that worries you?
I know it's I would I would say it's like it's like a family in the next generation. Right.
It's now up to others to make that choice to not be attached. So if I have my kids who then become grown adults, I want them to make the choices that they want to make. Now, I hope that they will make the healthy choices. And did we do we raise them? Well, did they you know, in other words, to make those choices, but they need to have their own experiences and have that kind of independence. So at that age, you you let go and you enjoy them doing it their own way, even in them.
Even you can't start at that age.
You have to start another at an early age that they can make their decisions. So I don't have an attachment to that.
What I did have, most importantly, was my sense of do I pass it along clearly and well? That's why, in other words, my writing that book relieved me of what my responsibility is.
What others do with it is up to them. Right. Right. So I did my job. If you want to read the book and it's helpful and you reject it or take it. And that's true of betrayal of Bridgewater. Great. OK, I did my job. Now you have to live your life.
How did the principals transfer over to the world of philanthropy?
You know, same thing, it's part of this, you know, evolution. I started I didn't have any money. And then you acquire money and, you know, for money. For me, money was not very much a priority to begin with. It just happened to be. The thing that I do produces a lot of money if you do it well. But anyway, you evolve and you make your choices.
And I think as you go higher and higher level of evolution and maybe as you get older or you also this meditation has helped me feel connected to other people, feel connected beyond me. I realize I'm part of an ecosystem. I'm an infinitesimally small part of an ecosystem.
And I really do feel that the ecosystem is much more important than me. And I can see it from that higher level kind of thing. So I feel connected to others. And then I think about what my incremental were the increments so and what it can mean. So on the margin, what is it going to mean to another person, that amount of money? And I also view it as an a life cycle thing. In other words, you know, I don't know, you start with nothing and then you end with nothing.
So it's part of that evolutionary process. So and it's like the issue of what what I call spirituality. Spirituality. I don't mean religion. I mean the notion of feeling connected to others and the whole and that that if that whole is good, then you're good kind of thing. And so I think that one in terms of philanthropy becomes a natural extension of that. It doesn't become for me, it has not become something that I think of even as a peripheral activity or philanthropy or giving away.
The question is, what do you want to do?
Like, it's it's, you know, like I'm excited about doing some things or I feel needs to do something. So it's that kind of experience. And by the way, it's interesting because I thought I, you know, have a lot of money and I have a lot of money relative to most people.
And then you realize through this that you have a tiny bit of money relative to all that needs to be done. And so then that becomes, you know, this other dimension. So I think probably philanthropy is one of those things that has come to me maybe starting 10 years ago, something like that at that stage because of these various evolutionary considerations.
You've said that the future is going to look very different in the book. I'm wondering, what do you think will be the same?
I think that, you know, human nature changes very slowly.
So I think the, you know, the conflict between thoughtfulness and emotion. Individually and between people. We'll probably always be with us, you know, that human nature will be with us. I think what will what will change there is the role of algorithmic decision making. I mean, I think we're largely entering an environment in which not to exaggerate it, but there are going to be people who are writing the algorithms that will replace the people who are doing jobs.
And and so there's going to be a bifurcation. And I think that learning how to code is like learning how to read and write for the next generation. And you want to be on that side of it. And I think I think what will be the same is conflict between people. And that's what worries me. It worries me because, you know, let's go back to basics. You know, as a country, do the do the principles that bind us together.
Are they greater than the ones that divide us?
Can you know, this is a time to be very clear for everybody to be very clear what their individual principles are, the president of the United States, each person, the country and work ourselves through, can we do this well collectively or are we in a fight with each other that's going to actually divide us apart? And it's going to be more challenging because the circumstances of the people who are in, let's call it the bottom 60 percent of the population are very different and they're hurting.
And it's a major problem. Death rates are rising, just wholly different economy than those are in, let's say, at the top 40 percent, let alone the top one percent. So conflict will be the same. OK, how we approach it will be the same. You know, that's that's why I'm hoping that there can be this idea, meritocratic decision making that pulls us together and allows us to resolve those things so that we can do those things.
We can have thoughtful disagreement and then we can have mechanisms to get past our disagreements that that conflict issue will be the same and it's going to be a bigger issue in the future.
Do you think that that relates to kind of First-order thinking versus Second-order thinking? I mean, one of the sections of your book that I loved was kind of talking about people that optimize for the first tranche versus people that optimize for the second or third or fourth layer effects to that.
Do you think
that'll always be that'll always be the same. And it's key, right? It's the quite often. It's the great trick of life. You know, and so many things, the first order consequences, the thing that you get first is like a trick that will the opposite consequent like like, you know, why is it that it seems like all food that tastes good is probably bad for you? I mean, I'm not saying that is generally.
But, I mean, you know, why is it that why is it the things that are fun or it somehow seem to be harmful and it's the opposite way? Why is it that exercise is painful and it's good for, you know, and it's the opposite? It's almost like life is tricking you in terms of putting out first order consequences and then the second order consequences is the opposite. OK, now can you see that? Can you deal with that?
Because in order to get what you really want in life, you're going to have to pay attention to that second order consequence. I don't care which you would you pay attention to it. At the end of the day when I ask you, do you want to be, I don't know, fat? Do you want to be whatever?
Do you want to do those so that notion of can you consider your second order consequences and then even your third order consequences is so important and and you can even know you can't do it yourself, maybe sometimes by having the help of others.
I want to circle back to this algorithmic decision making for a second. You mentioned that it's coming it's coming quickly. Who do you think is at risk in a corporate job that might not think that they're at risk right now?
Well, I mean, we just generally, generally, generally speaking, I'd say almost anybody who is in. Writing the algorithms is at risk, I guess there are some things, you know, it'll be a while before the robots give good massages and it'll be you know, it'll be you know, there are the imagination.
It'll be a long time before those intuitions and those imaginations are created by computers.
OK, but it won't be a long time before computers produce better quality thinking, would you feel different if you listen to a computer generated song or music and you were told that it was computer generated versus a human who had a story of craftsmanship around it?
What a great question. What a great question. I have an attachment for the humanity. Right?
So I but I would probably also have an admiration for the marvelling of how that can be created.
So I guess I would I would say there's that transition from from the one to the other, you know, but I would yeah. It because reflection that would have a little bit of excitement and a little bit of almost nostalgia.
You're a fierce observer of human nature. What's the most common mistake that you see successful people make?
Well, again, the most successful, the most common mistake, I suppose, which is made less by successful people but still is too often made by successful people, is thinking that they know the answers without having the best perspective and adequately stress testing it so that they're taking in so they can make the absolute best decision.
Why do you think or maybe it's a misconception on my part, but what do you think so many successful people are unhappy is that the strategies they've chosen to become successful are making them?
Well, I think the question is as a deep psychological question of what what are they going after? Right. And is success going to provide that? So, for example, if they're going after status.
If they're going after the admiration of others and so things, I don't think that that's going to bring them happiness, probably a lot of people who are successful or compulsive and trying to get those types of things. So I think a lot of people versus you know, so the question is, is it is it a personality disorder that is making people continue to strive to get something that they can that is within them and that they can have that? So I yeah, I don't think.
Why are you doing it? You know, is it the thrill, you know, for me, like early on, it was first the adventure.
Yeah. You know, the thrill of the experimentation and the doing that and then the thrill of getting better. OK, and then I have my own evolution and and I describe in the book how my perspective had changed.
My perspective had changed from the early days to the later days. But anyway, I won't reflect on me. I would. I would say that. Community, by the way, we're talking about happiness. There is virtually no correlation between the amount of one money one has and one's happiness. That's pretty well known, passed a certain basic. The factor that's the highest correlation is whether it is relationships, a sense of community across societies. That's genetically programmed into us.
It's estimated that somewhere between a million and two million years ago, before it was even manned before with the ancestors, a man that that got programmed into us. But anyway, it's one of the things that's the most important source of happiness. And when I look back on myself and I and I think, what was that? What was the thing that. I most was made happy by. It was relationships, the meaningful relationships intellectually, I feel that contributed something, but the greatest source was that relationships in the community.
So a lot of people who are going after status, success, admiration, I think the question is, are they making the most of the relationships?
I think that's important.
So I have a question on that, because if we move to I mean, one of the economic ideas that countries are tossing around or even experimenting with in some cases are universal basic income for people that are displaced, perhaps by technology. How do you think that interacts with this? High correlation to sense of purpose and connectedness with. Our Piers, how do you think that
the universal basic income is a complex issue, but I'd say the following, there is income and then there's usefulness.
And I think the most important pass, this basic income, taking care of some of the basics, the most important thing is usefulness. By the way, I don't believe that the basic things are being well taken care of. I could digress into that a little bit, but that we have to get purpose and usefulness. So when we talk about giving money, the real question is what is that money best used for? And so that concept is that the individual could decide best for himself what it's best used for.
That may be right and it may be wrong. I can't tell you whether it's right or wrong. My wife works in the most distressed school districts around and at a very early age there are major problems. We come from Connecticut and from Connecticut and she works lives in Connecticut.
She supported the doing of the study of what percentage of the students, what are disconnected or disengaged. A disengaged student is a student who attend school but actually doesn't participate. They don't study the
presentism.I mean, they're sitting there, but they're not doing anything kind of. Exactly.
And then disconnected is they don't know where they are. And twenty two percent of the students in high school students in Connecticut are one of those two things. That's one in five. OK. So the real question, I think, is at a very early age, nutrition. Basic education, creating, making sure that the bottom is not and it's not just an education thing. Yeah, it's the family that they go home to or what the circumstances are.
It's the traumas that they're having in their environment. So these things the question is, are those best provided in some manner by somebody else or would you if you gave that person the money, would they do the right things for the money? And in some, these are difficult questions, right? I mean, my I know that if we take educational opportunity, like I didn't have anything and I when I grew up, the idea of equal opportunity was like a basic right and an American dream and reality, not equal outcome, but equal opportunity.
Equal opportunity. Right.
And that's also the beauty of immigrants who would come here and work hard and all of that, that equal opportunity. OK, so when I'm looking at it, I would want to try to find out what are the mechanisms of creating that equal opportunity, not equal income, but equal opportunity. So because that usefulness that disengaged that we're talking about, that will be replaced more by technology and that that split that's happening is the most fundamentally important issue that we have to deal with.
I want to talk a little bit about Decision-Making at Bridgewater, I mean, what is the by and large, what is the overarching process you use for decision making?
Is it we have a decision to make. We're going to get in a room and we're going to talk about it. Or is there something something that we're not seeing to this?
Well, it's it's it's pretty much we have a decision making. We get in the room to do it. But what starts to be different from that is that rather than thinking about what our decision is.
We spent more time thinking about what our criteria for making the decision is.
So walk me through that a little, like, can you give me an example of how you would. How you would go about doing that?
Yeah, you have. Currency crisis, you have balance of payments problem. Rather than decide should we sell the currency or not sell the currency, we say, what are our criteria? And then we go back into all the times in history that that thing happened.
Remember, I said, like, everything happens over and over again. And if you could decide what species it is and have principles for dealing with that species, then you know how to deal with it best. So that's the exercise of saying, OK, what are our criteria for making decisions? Because if we can agree on those criteria and then when there's disagreement rather than making disagreement about the action, you say, what is the disagreement about the criteria?
You can test the criteria,
because if you disagree on the criteria, the decision, or if you agree on the criteria, the decision basically makes it so.
How do you go back and correct if you're wrong?
Well, the same thing you know, you experience. OK, I'm wrong. So this is pain plus reflection equals progress. So when you look at experiencing the pain. OK, now calm yourself down and say, OK, what would I have done differently? And again, what I do like to do is look at all the cases in which that thing happened before what happened differently to gain the perspective of the cause effect relationships. And you do that.
You love your mistakes. I mean, love you don't love the outcomes. The United States, of course, but you realize that the connection is a feedback loop, you know, so that you get that mistake, meaning that you have to then learn, as I say, you know, there are five steps to success. OK, first, your goals. You want to have audacious goals. You have to know what the goals are. Second, on your way to your goals, you're going to have your problems, your mistakes, OK?
OK, so you have to identify and not tolerate your problems. Then third, you have to diagnose your problems to get at the root cause, OK, root cause may be your weaknesses or somebody else's weaknesses or may be the mistakes. You've got to diagnose them deeply. So once you have the diagnosis, then you have a fourth step, which is design, what you're going to do differently in the future, and then once you have that design, then the fifth step is you got to do it.
You have to follow through with those results and you keep doing that. And it produces this looping, as I'm calling this evolutionary process. So it's that process that we call this five step process that we're always living by. So mistakes instinctually cause us to change my whole attitude.
Our whole attitude about mistakes has changed dramatically. It's like mistakes, trigger puzzles. And and the puzzle, if I solved the puzzle, I get a gem. So the puzzle is what would I have done differently? What should I do differently? That would have produced a different result. That's a principle. You write down the principal. OK, the gem is the principle that lets you do better in the future, so it's that kind of accumulation of learning and making the connection between the mistakes and the learning.
That's that's the process.
The reflection process for you is is that maybe the most important part of that? Or if you had to or they're all interconnected, obviously, you need all of them.
You need all of them. Yeah, I think the reflection is probably the most important. But if you're not designing your alternative to change, you're not getting anywhere.
If you're not following through with that design, you're not getting anywhere.
If you don't have your audacious goals so that you know where you're going, you're not going to get to the right place because you're not on a trajectory. And you're right.
So you need your audacious goals to know where you're going. You need to recognize your problems. You need to diagnose them to the root cause. You need to do the design of what you do differently and you need to follow through with it.
What advice would you give to a high school class of students if you had to pass along a couple sentences of wisdom?
Yeah, you know, love your mistakes, learn from them. I realize that that personal evolution and the stakes and imperfection is a part of our lives and know how to deal with it. Well, value what you don't know even more than what you value, what you do know. Be radically open minded, go for the adventure, have the adventure, don't mind. Falling and, you know, banging yourself up or scraping your knee, it'll pass and make the most out of your life by learning and evolving. Those are the general themes.
This has been an amazing conversation. I want to thank you so much for your time today.
Thank you. Hey, guys, this is Shane again, just a few more things before we wrap up. You can find show notes at Farnam Street blog, dotcom slash podcast. That's what they are. And they and s t r e t blog. Dotcom slash podcast. You can also find information there on how to get a transcript. And if you'd like to receive a weekly email from me filled with all sorts of brain food, go to Farm Street blog, dotcom slash newsletter.
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